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Ambroise Thomas - Mignon - "Connais-tu le pays" (Magdalena Kozena)

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Uploaded on Dec 25, 2008

The dismal failure of Thomas' "Le roma d'Elvire" in 1860, combined with the success of Gounod's "Faust" the year before, prompted Thomas to quit composing opera for the next six years. However, when Jules Barbier and Michel Carre - the librettists for Gounod's masterpiece and the future authors of Thomas' "Hamlet" - approached Thomas with the Mignon story, they found the composer eager to eclipse his rival's earlier triumph. "Mignon" was first performed on November 17, 1866. It was an immediate success and was performed 100 times at the Opera-Comique in the eight months after the premiere.

Barbier and Carre made fundamental changes to the central character of Mignon. In the novel, she is not the main character, but by extracting her trials and tribulations from the context of the work as a whole Barbier and Carre made Mignon the focal point of the opera. The highlight of the character's lovely development as done by Thomas comes in the form of her pastoral aria, presented here. Rather sentimental both in text (Mignon relates the beauty of her homeland from where she was exiled by fate), in melodic material (this is especially evident in the numerous bird effects that are used throughout the aria) and structure (a simple couplet form is used), it fits perfectly in the context of Mignon's childlike innocence and the aria's Arcadian themes.

Magdalena Kozena perhaps offers a slightly too mature reading of the young girl's solo but such quibles are vindicated by her sincere approach. Hope you'll enjoy :).

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